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Friday, February 16, 2018
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Top News

Russian Passenger Jet Crashes Near Moscow

A Saratov Airlines flight en route to Orsk crashed moments after taking off from Domodedovo airport outside Moscow, killing the 65 passengers and six crewmembers onboard. 

Russian investigators are scouring the area around the crash site for debris and remains. Russian officials do not believe that terrorism was the cause of the crash.

ANALYSIS: CGI Program Associate Kate Baughman on how the U.S. can bolster Ukraine's energy security (Center on Global Interests)

Jan Gross against and Polish Ambassador to the UK Arkady Rzegocki in defense of Poland's controversial new law concerning the country's role in the Holocaust (Financial Times)

Two contrasting takes on Russia's viability as a U.S. partner in counterterrorism (Russia Matters)

The EU's net economic effect on Eastern and Central Europe: an assessment of differing viewpoints (Bloomberg)

Bloomberg interviews Umut Shayakhmetova, CEO of Kazakhstan's Halyk Bank, about potential banking sector stabilization (Bloomberg)


The measure, later repealed under Khruschchev, was meant to address demographic difficulties after World War II and reinforce Stalin's policy of isolation. Read more>>>
Russian Politics

Roskomnadzor Issues Warning to Youtube, Instagram Over New Navalny Investigation

 

On February 10, Russia's media and telecommunications watchdog ordered Youtube and Instagram to remove content relating to Aleksei Navalny's investigation of oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The agency insisted that the companies comply within three business days or else face investigation.

As of February 12, the Youtube content was still accessible, and Navalny's video had received over four million views. Instagram, however, has acceded to Roskomnadzor's requests, restricting access to two remaining posts related to the corruption claims.

Six Russian-language news agencies have also been ordered to remove or redact content concerning the investigation.

SYRIA: Russian and Syrian officials confirmed that at least four Russian nationals were killed by rebel coalition fighters in an attack near Al Tabiyeh, Syria last week. Russian officials insist that the Russian nationals were not regular army soldiers.

CYBER: A recent series of cyberattacks on Olympics-related systems have remained unattributed, but experts suspect Russian and North Korean involvement. 

The "Olympic Destroyer" malware exhibits certain similarities to the "NotPetya" and "BadRabbit" malware levied against Ukraine, while the other allegedly bears signs of North Korean hacking.

In other news, UK Defense Minister Gavin Williamson has officially accused Russia of orchestrating the NotPetya attack.

TRADE: In 2017, bilateral trade between Germany and Russia saw a nearly 25% increase after years of sanctions and low trade activity.

View from Washington

House Democrat Memo Blocked, Revised


President Trump blocked the release of House Intelligence Committee Democrats' rebuttal memo on Friday, citing FBI concerns about sensitive intelligence techniques and other material.

However, the White House has indicated that the memo would likely be released after edits were made by its drafters in Congress. Democrats have expressed concerns that their memo was subject to revision, while its Republican counterpart was released as-is despite FBI objections.

The Committee plans to amend the 10-page memorandum and hold another vote on its release.

TREASURY: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin made assurances on February 14 that the Trump administration is still planning to impose more sanctions under the "Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act."

The State Department clarified that it considers January 29th, the day the act came into effect, as a starting point rather than a deadline to levy sanctions.

INTELLIGENCE: In a report released on February 13, U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Russia and China were developing anti-satellite missiles "as a means to reduce U.S. and allied military effectiveness."

Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Saakashvili Deported to Poland

 
On February 12, Ukrainian security services detained ex-President of Georgia and former Odessa mayor Mikheil Saakashvili at a Kiev restaurant and sent him to Poland against his will.

After being stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship, Saakashvili forced his way across the border upon his return from Poland in September. Authorities stated that "therefore, in compliance with all legal procedures, he was returned to the country from which he arrived."

Saakashvili has been highly outspoken against his former ally, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, for the last several months. In January, a Georgian court sentenced Saakashvili to three years in prison for abuse of power during his presidency and has asked Ukraine for extradition.

CENTRAL ASIA & ENERGY:  China has blamed Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for a serious shortfall in gas deliveries through the China-Central Asia LNG pipeline.  China has accused its Central Asian suppliers of hoarding gas for more lucrative sales in Europe. 

There have been reports over the last year of disguised Chinese troops being sent to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to conduct surveillance along gas pipelines. 

HUNGARY: In opposition to a language law passed in Ukraine last September, Hungary blocked a meeting between the countries' NATO defense ministers which was scheduled for February 14-15.

The law prevents linguistic and ethnic minorities, including ethnic Hungarians, from receiving secondary education in their mother tongue. NATO and U.S. officials have urged the countries to settle their differences over the law.

On February 14, Ukraine conceded to extending the transition period for the introduction of the law's language provision until 2023.
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